Obituary: Eric Bakie, ex-footballer, 87

Eric Bakie
Eric Bakie
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A footballer and civil servant has died at the age of 87.

Eric Bakie was an accomplished Scottish footballer of the 1950s who played more than 160 league and cup games as a part-time player with Aberdeen, Dunfermline Athletic and St Johnstone. Reluctance to leave the security of a civil service career for the uncertainties of full-time football probably cost him a more high-profile CV. He certainly had the requisite talent, as is vouched by Arsenal’s desire to sign him.

As it transpired, the London move did not materialise and instead Eric signed for Aberdeen while continuing to work and live in Edinburgh. Despite Aberdeen being keen for him to be full-time, he preferred to remain part-time.

He trained in the evenings at Easter Road, meeting up with teammates only on Saturdays. He had an auspicious debut for the Dons first team on December 17, 1949, featuring at left-half in a 5-0 demolition of Motherwell.

Another of his first-team appearances was against Hibs at Easter Road in front of 35,000 fans, but it was difficult holding down a first-team place being part-time. After two seasons and a handful of games, Aberdeen gave him a free transfer in 1951 when he joined Dunfermline Athletic, with whom he would spend his best years.

By the time he left the Pars in 1957, having spent the last two seasons in the old First Division, he was their joint longest-serving player.

A season or so at the old Muirton Park in Perth with St Johnstone was followed by his dropping down a level to play in the East of Scotland League in the autumn of his career with Duns.

Eric was born in Watson Crescent, and attended North Merchiston Primary School. One of his teammates in the school team was near neighbour Lawrie Reilly, of Hibs and Scotland fame, with whom he maintained a lifelong friendship.

A bright youngster, Bakie won a bursary to the Royal High School, but continued his football with North Merchiston Boys Club. In 1946 he represented Scotland’s Boys Clubs in matches against Wales and England.

National Service followed in Cairo where, as a staff sergeant, he was engaged in the repatriation of German prisoners with whom he frequently played football.

On his return, he joined famous juvenile side Hutchison Vale.

After leaving school, Eric joined the Ministry of Labour (later the Department of Employment), remaining there throughout his working life, latterly as an auditor.

Despite five hip operations due to football, in retirement he enjoyed golf at Lothianburn where he was also a member of the “New Ten Park” club. He was also a keen and successful bowler at the Coltbridge club at Roseburn.

He and wife Margaret would have celebrated their diamond wedding next month. He is survived by Margaret, children Kenneth and Elaine and several grandchildren.